4 types of liver transplant you should know about


When your doctor tells you that you need a liver transplant, this means that your liver is failing to perform essential functions. Your liver is responsible for cleansing your blood of harmful toxins, helping with food digestion and storing energy-rich sugars for later use. When any of these activities are impaired, it can be life threatening. This is when a liver transplant can save your life. Before getting a liver transplant, you should know the different types of liver transplant.

With all types of liver transplant, there must be a complete match between you and the donor. This means the donor must match blood type, liver tissue and liver size. There are four different types of liver transplant that may be offered to a person:

  1. Orthotopic transplant (transplant of a liver from a recently deceased donor)
  2. A living donor transplant
  3. A split type of liver transplant
  4. Auxiliary liver transplant

Orthotopic transplant

An orthotopic transplant is the most common type of liver transplant. It is a transplant that involves a whole liver taken from a recently deceased donor. This is usually from a donor who has agreed to donate their organs prior to death or when the donor’s family has agreed to donate.

During surgery, your doctor will make an incision in your stomach to remove the failed liver. The donor liver will then be put in place and connected to your blood vessels and bile ducts. The incision is then closed with dissolvable stitches or surgical staples.

Drainage tubes may be used to drain any extra fluids. You will be monitored in the hospital for at least several days after surgery.

Living donor transplant

Living donor transplant means the donor is a willing living person. The donor has the operation first in which the surgeon removes either the left or right side (lobe) of their liver.

Right lobe transplants are usually recommended for adults while left lobes are used in children. This is because the right lobe is bigger and better suited for adults, while the left lobe is smaller and better suited for children.

The recipient is then opened up and the diseased liver is removed. Then the part of the liver taken from the donor is replaced making the connections with blood vessels and bile ducts as in an orthotopic transplant.

Following transplantation, the transplanted lobe will quickly regenerate itself. Even for the donor the removed portion of the liver grows back. In the recipient the new lobe usually grows to 85% of the original liver size within a week.

Split type of liver transplant

Split donation involves transplantation of a liver from a recently deceased individual to two recipients. This is possible if the next suitable recipients are an adult and a child. The donated liver will be split into the left and right lobes. The adult normally receives the larger right lobe and the child will receive the smaller left lobe.

As with living donor transplants, the transplanted portions of the liver grow back to the original size by regeneration. This method benefits two persons at a time.

Auxiliary liver transplant

Auxiliary liver transplantation is a rare type of liver transplant. It occurs when the recipient’s liver is not completely removed. This is when you are able to salvage a portion of your liver. Auxiliary liver transplant is suitable for heredity or metabolic liver disease that causes only acute liver failure.

Knowing the different types of liver transplants can help you and your doctor decide which type is suitable for you. Your decision may also depend on the availability of the healthy liver as well as your physical condition.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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